After almost two decades of schism, Catholic traditionalists hope the Vatican will soon take them back into the fold by granting two key concessions and leaving unresolved the main issue that drove them away.
Bishop Bernard Fellay, head of the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX), says the expected revival of the old Latin mass that was replaced in the 1960s by modern liturgy in local languages would be a "grand gesture" meeting one of his demands.
The Swiss bishop, successor to the late SSPX founder French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, also expects the Vatican to lift the 1988 excommunications of Lefebvre and four bishops -- including Fellay -- whom he consecrated without Rome's approval.
"Things are going in the right direction. I think we'll get an agreement," Fellay told journalists in Paris at the weekend. "Things could speed up and come faster than expected."
Getting an agreement now would mean the Swiss-based SSPX and its 470 priests could return to the Roman fold without resolving a dispute over its opposition to the modernising reforms of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).
Claiming a million followers, the SSPX is the vanguard of traditionalists among 1.1 billion Catholics worldwide. Its return would have no direct effect on most parishes but high symbolic value for arch-conservatives in the Church...
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